Spiritual principles

List of basic, universal spiritual principles

By Stephen Frasier
butterfly in flight, hiking at Ellington Agricultural Center, NashvilleThis is a partial list of universal spiritual principles which have been taught repeatedly by many of the world’s greatest spiritual teachers throughout history including the Buddha (6th century BCE), Lao-Tsu (6th century BCE), Jesus (1st century CE), and others.

[ Great Spiritual Masters and Teachers (Devon Love, 58-page PDF) ]

Let’s get Beyond Religion
Our view that most of life’s problems relate to deviations from spiritually principled behavior as opposed to participation in the "wrong" supernatural or religious belief system is certainly not unique; however, it is rather controversial and often contested from many circles here within the Bible belt. Nevertheless, we are passionate about promoting just such a view, partly in support of broad missions of people like the Dalai Lama as described in his fantastic book Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World.

[ All photos on this page by Stephen Frasier ]

NOTES: (1) This list of universal spiritual principles is a work in progress; there’s some overlap within the spiritual principles listed here. (2) I’ve become aware that this list is actually a mix of spiritual PRINCIPLES and spiritual PRACTICES; perhaps I’ll eventually get around to separating the two, thus producing a more accurate list. Thanks for visiting.

List of spiritual principles

    sunset in Green Hills, Nashville, on Dec 29, 2011 - Stephen Frasier Photography
  1. Remaining open-minded and teachable, much like a child; remaining pliable like clay
  2. Making peace with all; pacificsm, nonviolence; dedicated stance against war
  3. Mindfulness of the present moment
  4. Monitoring one’s stream of thoughts in an effort to maintain positivity and compassion (closely related to mindfulness of the present moment)
  5. Not worrying about the future
  6. hiking at Fiery Gizzard near Monteagle, TN - fall 2008

  7. Not dwelling upon past events
  8. Non-attachment (to things, people, places, ideas, habits, money, lifestyle, etc.); one must be able to walk away from it all if necessary, as the Buddha, Jesus, and many other teachers made quite clear
  9. Deflating the ego[2]
  10. Practicing humility
  11. Constant awareness of & connection to oneness, to "the Source", and not having a need to name it or define it (Mother Nature, God, Tao, Universal Intelligence, Creator, creative force, the universe, or whatever else one might choose to call the unseen, unknowable realm; whatever rests behind the curtain of reality)
  12. Sunset near Green Hills - Nashville, TN

  13. Extending goodwill and Right Action not only toward humanity, but to creation in its entirety (pets, squirrels, trees, earth, insects, and yes, toward the overall environment as well; basically, having positive intent toward everything)
  14. Spiritual ecology: Acknowledging the critical need to recognize, understand, and address the spiritual dynamics at the root of environmental degradation
  15. Expressing hope; maintaining a positive outlook, even in the face of despair
  16. hiking Fiery Gizzard trails: Monteagle, Tennessee

  17. Focusing on unity, oneness, and sharing instead of division, separateness, and differences
  18. Tolerance and acceptance; refraining from criticizing, condemning, complaining (This is classic Dale Carnegie; certainly not easy)
  19. Forgiving others when we are wronged
  20. Displaying courage in the face of fear
  21. Following the heart, not worrying about the opinions and beliefs of others; avoiding habitual conformity
  22. Open-mindedness, flexibility, remaining teachable; willingness to learn and to objectively explore and study, rather than blindly accepting whatever you are told you "should" do or "ought" to believe
  23. cascades - Big Creek - Fiery Gizzard in East Tennessee

  24. Bringing truth to error
  25. Displaying faith[1] in the face of doubt
  26. Showing kindness to neighbors (everyone); loving others (everyone) as ourselves
  27. Living with integrity (Being the same person no matter whom you’re with)
  28. Practicing brotherly love
  29. Employing perseverance and discipline in the face of obstacles
  30. Seeking opportunities to improve the world by asking, "How may I serve?"
  31. Practicing daily meditation to increase awareness, mindfulness
  32. Practicing quiet contemplation to develop insight, wisdom
  33. Treating others as we would like to be treated ("The Golden Rule")
  34. Facing hatred with compassion; loving one’s enemies
  35. mammatus clouds at sunset, Green Hills Mall: Nashville, Mar 14, 2012, Stephen Frasier Photography 2012

  36. Practicing honesty; telling the truth, avoiding lies
  37. Expressing genuine compassion; wanting as much or more for others as you do for yourself
  38. Avoiding fideistic, rigid, fundamentalist worldviews that declare all others to be wrong (i.e., Ending all belief that members of other religious faiths, the faithless, etc. are not as right as you are)
  39. Expressing gratitude and appreciation at all times; remaining grateful for everything and everyone you have in your life; also, being grateful for what others have in their lives
  40. sunset in Green Hills, Nashville, on Dec 29, 2011 - Stephen Frasier Photography

  41. Service-orientation: Our lives, including all business activity, should be focused on providing real service to others
  42. Not taking anything personally; this goes for any statement or action of another person (One of the classic Four Agreements by spiritual teacher Miguel Ruiz)
  43. Always doing one’s best (Another of the classic Four Agreements by spiritual teacher Miguel Ruiz)
  44. Doing what you say you’ll do
  45. Practicing what you preach (integrity)
  46. Giving anonymously
  47. Practicing silence, restraint
  48. Refraining from egotistical descriptions of one’s own spirituality; keeping your spiritual practices to yourself (that’s not to discourage teaching spirituality or spiritual practices to others; however, remaining mindful of ones true motivation in such matters really can help keep the ego out of the process.)


[1] Faith

Faith: The sincere belief that living by these basic, universal, common-sense spiritual principles necessarily leads to a vibrant life overflowing with compassion and gratitude, service and giving, deep friendships, allowing one to excel in areas of passion and interest, and eventually delivering complete inner peace and enlightenment – or that amazing "peace that passes all understanding", as it was described in one book…

[2] Deflating the ego

Ego deflation is a central pillar of genuine, thorough spiritual practice. Even so, this terminology — ego deflation — is hardly ever used to describe it. Perhaps the phrase sounds too negative to the Western psyche…

Resources: Spiritual principles

The items listed in this section of web resources for spiritual principles are NOT related to twelve-step programs.

  1. Principles of Spiritual Activism – a list of thirteen (13) spiritual principles – Satyana — These principles emerged from several years’ work with social change leaders in Satyana’s Leading with Spirit program; offered not as definitive truths, but rather as key learnings and guidelines that, taken together, comprise a useful framework for “spiritual activism”…
  2. Ten Spiritual Principles of Discipline: What I Learned from Adi Da Samraj – Frank Marrero
  3. Principles of Spiritual Evolution (Part I) – a list of nine (9) spiritual principles

Resources: Spiritual principles from twelve-step recovery perspective

This section of resources for spiritual principles relates to twelve-step programs like A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous), N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous), O.A. (Overeaters Anonymous), etc. It should be noted that the separation of general spiritual principles (above) from these 12-step recovery related links is not because the latter are any less valid or helpful. Simply, folks who are not involved in twelve-step recovery programs are likely to pass over material specifically targeted for people in recovery.

So far, it seems the majority of Internet resources resulting from searches for terms like "spiritual principles" have been written from the perspective 12-step recovery programs. (At least, that is what this blogger has noticed.)

Resources: Lists of spiritual principles

Please help spread the message any way you can:

  1. Fundamentalism — whether religious or political — is one of the true, major, current scourges on the planet; nothing good can come from it.
  2. The way forward for all mankind is to embrace basic universal spiritual principles in all affairs.
  3. Individuals, groups, and nations should not expect others to adopt their own culture-specific or religion-specific traditions, practices, or beliefs; instead, mutual respect should reign.

Removed content
(Without this spiritual principle in full practice, substantial spiritual growth is highly unlikely, if not impossible…)
stained glass windows - downtown Nashville church buildingThe random photo set of stained glass windows at a church in downtown Nashville (Lindsley Ave., one of the most conservative Church of Christ-style congregations I have ever experienced) was removed because it is more evocative of the ‘religious’ than the ‘spiritual’ — especially for non-churchgoers. The rotating photo set of the spiral galaxies was removed because they were obviously not my work… I stated at the outset that all photos were taken by yours truly!

One of the most often disputed and challenged beliefs promoted here concerns the great similarity and agreement among the most influential spiritual gurus, teachers, religions, spiritual paths, etc. when their teachings are properly interpreted or understood. I firmly believe that strengthening the bridges that connect various faiths and celebrating the similarities is much more spiritually principled than tearing them down and adopting divisive fundamentalist belief systems in which only one’s own group can ever be right – & everyone else wrong.

  • Wonder and fascination (I’m still considering how to accurately describe this one… They were included in another, shorter list of universal spiritual principles I liked)

space, astronomy: spiral galaxyThough I would not care to attend regularly these days for various reasons, this author will always be grateful for the significant spiritual lessons learned in twelve step groups, meetings, and participation.

23 thoughts on “Spiritual principles

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  17. Jean Boutin

    If God wanted Church’s and religions he would have created them. He told David,Solomon,Jesus and more he does not dwell in a house built by men. He destroyed the Tower of Babel ( they tried to build a one world religion/goverment). If Jesus would have wanted a church he would have started one but he didn’t. He told Simon you are the rock to the called out ones and even the gates of Hades cannot overcome you. Jesus placed men and women as equals first time ever in history this happened and was then was lost. Catholic religion was started by Simon the Sorcerer who took the truths of the teachings mixed it with his Babylonian ways to hide the truth and fool the people. He has succeeded in doing so with the sheep who don’t seek God from within but through what they are told and hear. Jesus,Buddha,the Dalai Lama,etc all taught the same universal ways to God but men have twisted the truths to confuse the weak minded. The only truth that is universal for true enlightenment is Love/Servitude to all living things.
    Take Hinduism for example there are thousands of gods but one all powerful. The same as what Jesus taught the many gods are the evils that control us and then God the creator who is the opposite. If you study the Bible in ancient writings you see the world has existed for much longer than the 30-40 thousand years ago when the sudden change in humanity happened which both science and religion agree upon. Darwin went back to God before he died!! Find the truth for yourself don’t take your truth from others truths or you will lose your way as the path inside you holds all the keys.
    Jesus said you must learn about Death in order to find new life. Know your history. Don’t allow others to dictate the past to you as they don’t have your desire for the truth so it’s rendering will be unfit for you to benefit.

    1. samana Post author

      Thank you for your thoughtful and well-meaning reply. I will respond but it may be a while as I have much on the dreaded “to-do” list!
      Take care and peace to all,

    2. samana Post author

      Jean, Thanks again for taking the time not only to read our growing and changing list of what we see as basic universal spiritual principles but especially for taking a portion of your valuable time to leave a comment.

      I hope you will allow me to comment in parts, for I have far more to say than what I’ve written here. But for starters:

      In all honestly, despite the many thousands of hours we have personally invested in related research, we believe your idea — that there should be no church in the first place — is truly a new religion-related view (at least, to us).

      The honest truth is, at first glance I think I agree with much of what you are saying: That the teachings of Jesus have been abused, corrupted, intentionally misinterpreted for the benefit of powerful men, and so on. Those groups which purport to represent — much less follow — the real, initially intended teachings of Jesus (to which I would add many other great spiritual teachers throughout history) are virtually lost, rarely followed, and devoid from most modern Christian groups.

      Well, I agree with that.

    1. samana Post author

      Thanks so much for reading, and especially for leaving a comment. We hope you’ll return to take in more Search for Truth articles and perhaps even leave additional comments. We appreciate you!

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